(director/writer: John Butler; cinematographer: Cathal Watters; editor: John O’Connor; music: John McPhillips; cast: Matt Bomer (Sean), Alejandro Patiño (Ernesto), Elena Campbell-Martinez (Linda), Wendi McLendon-Covey (Ash); Runtime: 98; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Rebecca O’Flanagan, Robert Walpole; Blue Fox Entertainment; 2018-Ireland/UK-in English with Spanish

“A quirky cross-cultural buddy comedy.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A quirky cross-cultural buddy comedy by the Irish-born director-writer John Butler (“Handsome Devil”). The low-key dramedy is set in Los Angeles. It tells about the friendship formed between the chipper but lonely thirtysomething Anglo TV weatherman Sean (Matt Bomer) and a middle-aged Mexican migrant day laborer named Ernesto (Alejandro Patiño), hired to paint his deck. The friendship is pursued by Sean even though he speaks very little Spanish and Ernesto speaks very little English.

When Sean has an on-air meltdown, the news director (Wendi McLendon-Covey) orders him to take a sabbatical.

The lighthearted comedy goes a long way because of an engrossing performance by Bomer, who goes through a lot of trouble to get Ernesto to be his friend and wins him over despite the language barrier. The movie’s third act comes with some genuine surprises that make the relationship tale more affecting and deeper emotionally than at first thought.

Matt Bomer and Alejandro Patiño in Papi Chulo (2018)

REVIEWED ON 6/21/2019       GRADE: B